After an exciting finish in the United Arab Emirates at last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, it was difficult to imagine a more entertaining tournament this week. The European Tour’s next stop was at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha, Qatar. Heading into the final round on Saturday Englishman Chris Wood had a 3 stroke lead, hoping that he could hold on for his first Euro Tour win.
Wood found himself in sole possession of first place after shooting an 8 under 64 to bring him to 15 under on the tournament.
The 25 year old Wood had participated in 115 European Tour events coming into the Qatar Masters and had 19 top ten finishes, including 7 top 3 finishes and 3 runner-ups. It seemed as if Wood would squander another lead as his 3 stroke advantage disappeared as he made the turn in the final round. Heading into the par 5 18th Wood was down a stroke to South African George Coetzee and Spaniard Sergio Garcia who were both in the clubhouse at 17 under. Many were preparing for what seemed like an inevitable playoff scenario but Chris Wood had different plans.
Wood has played in this tournament 4 different times finishing at 5 under twice, for 14th and 20th place but this was his year. Wood hit a big drive off the box to give himself a 202 yard approach shot, he pulled out a six iron and crushed it over the water and to within 10 feet of the flag. Wood was rattled with emotion but stepped up and sunk the putt for eagle and finished an exciting come-from-behind victory with a double fist pump. He entered this tournament ranked 142nd in the Official World Golf Rankings but jumped all the way to 64th after his first career victory. It was the third time that he led going into the final round of a European Tour but the first time he held off the competition. I guess the third time really is a charm.
Wood’s eagle is the first time a tournament was won by an eagle since the young Italian Matteo Manassero beat Louis Oosthuizen in a playoff at the 2012 Barclays Singapore Open. Bad luck for Garcia and Coetzee who would have to settle for a tie for 2nd. George Coetzee has a similar career to Wood, having this be his 21st career top ten finish and his 3rd of this season. Coetzee shot a 7 under 65 after shooting 70 yesterday but his eagle and 6 birdies weren’t enough to earn him that hideous Qatar Masters trophy.
Sergio Garcia was participating in his first tournament of the year and the first since re-entering the OWGR top ten. He would birdie the final two holes of the round but it turns out he couldn’t make up for the water shot he had in the 3rd round that led to a bogey. Sergio has played in the Qatar Masters 8 times and has finished in the top 25 in 7 of those, top 10 in 5, finishing 5th last year and tied for 2nd this year. Last year Garcia had just 1 top 3 finish in 13 events on the Euro Tour and he already has a 2nd place finish after his 1st tournament. Could this be the year that everyone has been expecting from Garcia for the past decade?
Some other notable golfers are Englishman Siman Khan who followed up round 3′s 64 with a 72 and finished tied for 6th at 12 under for the tournament. Germany’s Martin Kaymer was tied for the lead after the first two rounds but finished with a 72 and a 70 in the final two rounds and finished at 11 under in a tie for 9th. Jason Dufner also finished at 11 under while Justin Rose and Michael Cambell finished tied for 16th with 10 under 278′s. Peter Hansen, Matteo Manassero and Thorbjorn Olesen finished tied for 22nd with 9 unders. Louis Oosthuizen was tied for 34th with an 8 under, while Paul Casey finished tied for 37th with a score of 7 under.